What Runs Social Media?

Sierra Folk, Section Reporter

What is one of the reasons we get online? For many people, they go online to visit a social media site. Social media has a huge influence on people’s lives, and many people spend hours a day using social media. Whether it’s Instagram or Facebook, Twitter or Snapchat, people love social media. Yet how many people know what type of technology is used to create and run the sites we love?

Most social media networks use an open source software. The operating system behind Twitter is Linux, and the operating system behind Facebook is F5 Big-IP. The operating system behind Facebook is in the family of Linux-based appliances, and it also performs network management. Also, many social media sites use Sun’s MySQL database management system to keep the user’s status updated and messages organized. Most social media developers add functionality by using a networks API.

Some social media sites, like Twitter, use Ruby on Rails. Ruby on Rails is an easy to use open-source web framework. Twitter uses Ruby on Rails as its foundation. Twitter also uses the open source Jabber/XMPP (extensible messaging presence protocol) instant messaging. Twitter uses Jabber/XMPP instant messaging to route its millions of daily messages.

Social media sites use servers to handle the amount of people that use that site. Facebook, for example, has 30,000 servers to handle its 260 billion page views every month. What happens when a site grow in popularity too quickly, or can’t handle its number of users? Well, what happens is that the site often loses its stability and crashes.

Twitter grew in popularity very quickly and in 2008, it was down for 84 hours. This is often referred to as Twitter’s “Fail whale.” The same thing happened with Facebook. It grew too quickly in popularity and, in 2008, it was down for 7.2 hours. Both sites had to put together a system that would handle millions of users. To handle this problem most sites use the open-source program Memcached. Memcached deals with the major data requirements of network applications. It implements a global cache instead of just caching local chunks of data. This reduces the stress on database servers and makes the service faster.

There is still so much more that goes into running social media. It’s not easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy. This is just the basics that go into running social media. Next time that your on social media and it’s a little slow, think of the millions of people using the site at the same time! For more information on what it takes to run social media, visit: itworld.com/article/2759107/enterprise-software/how-social-networking-works.